In January, the retail sales fell by nearly 1.5% as compared to sales figures recorded in the previous month. Usually, January (that follows the festive shopping season of November and December), is a slow month for retailers, but this year the figures have been lower than expected. This fall has been the biggest since April 2012.
According to the Office for National Statistics, sales in supermarkets have been weak in particular, as compared to other retail format stores. Data also shows that the amount of money spent by consumers in January 2014 also fell by 1.8% as compared to December 2013.
The Office for national Statistics however, points out that the retail sales during Christmas grew by 2.5%, which was a bumper period for retailers. The decline follows this bumper season and hence it might not be a reason to worry about.
Another positive aspect that emerges from these figures is that the 2014 January sales figures, as compared to the 2013 figures, have gone up by 4.3%, and also that they remain 0.2% higher than the average of the last quarter of 2013.
This, according to economists, is an indicator that the performance of the retail sector remains positive, despite the fact that the weather conditions haven’t been all too encouraging in the recent past.
According to economist James Knightley at the ING Bank, there are several factors at play here including rising consumer confidence, growing wages, and higher employment rates. He said that market experts anticipate the household sector to play a significant part in the growth of the GDP in 2014.
At the same time, this month the Treasury coffers have recorded a smaller surplus than is usually recorded-standing at £4.72bn as of January 2014. This is half of what market experts had forecast, and the figure is also £6 billion less than a year ago.